Ibn Al Bahr Dubai

Ibn Al Bahr is a traditional Lebanese seafood restaurant at Club Vista Mare in the upscale Palm Jumeirah area of Dubai. It is known as the local hotspot for a fancy meal that doesn’t lose its marine authenticity.

The decor is reminiscent of a fisherman’s boat, with blue and white being the main colors including decorative elements made of rope. It happened by coincidence that I was dressed to match the theme!

Prepare your appetite because you wouldn’t want to miss a bite out of the dishes ranging from traditional cold fresh salads like tabboule and fattouch, to mezza (appetizers) such as hommos and fish tajin. read more

Brambles Dubai

Brambles is a bohemian inspired cafe in Barsha Heights Dubai that serves fresh wholesome items in a perfectly dainty atmosphere.

The details are what make the cafe unique, from the green elements adding an environmental touch bringing the outdoors in, to the faded pink that is integrated in the furniture and the tableware.

I am following a diet and eating out is sometimes a challenge, which is why I gravitated towards Brambles because it serves healthy and vegan options. I was very mindful of what I ordered, and decided to balance my food intake between trying new items while being aware of the quantity. The menu is wide and it’s quite a conundrum to decide what to order. That being said, you can’t go wrong with a guilt-free avocado pizza that has a rich vegetable based topping, including delicious cilantro. You can add an egg or chicken if you want a non-vegan option. Make sure to add appetizing salads to your table, a smart way to keep the calorie count low and the tummy full. read more

Jumeirah Creekside Hotel

Jumeirah Group sets the bar high in the hospitality sector and gives luxury travel a new meaning. I had previously stayed at Jumeirah Emirates Towers (click here to read about my experience) and was excited to discover another property, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. Even after the perfection that was JET, I was confident that I would find something fresh this time around, with the architecturally intriguing Creekside structure that boasts a location that is close to DXB airport and multiple attractions. read more

Izmir and Antalya

All great adventures begin at the crack of dawn, and what better reason to wake up early than a flight to explore a new destination? I went to the airport and finished my check in procedure to find myself in the comfy seat on board Wings of Lebanon with Nakhal. After my previous trips with this renowned travel agency to Antalya and Fethiye (click here to read), I was excited to see what would be in store. The destination was Turkey and the first stop was the Antalya airport to catch the connecting internal flight to Izmir. To my delight, the team had prepared for each of the travelers a kit with all the needs of the hotel, including room and towel keys, bracelet for the purchases if any, and the luggage tags all in one pouch. read more

Jumeirah Emirates Towers Dubai

Jumeirah is a name that is synonymous with luxury and lifestyle. I am no stranger to the Jumierah Emirates Towers, as I have previously attended a Christie’s auction launch with watches from the SIHH and private viewing of jewelry from the world’s most coveted collections. The hotel, although located on Sheikh Zayed road, feels isolated and peaceful. This is due to the grand and sweeping entrance that makes the property private and exclusive. During my stay and each time I headed out, attentive doormen would call a taxi on my behalf, making transportation easy and efficient. The lobby, other than being architecturally beautiful, is a calm place that allowed me to catch up on my daily business and correspondence. read more

Andes Dubai

One evening in May I cabbed my way from Sheikh Zayed Road to a building complex dubbed the World Trade Center. As the taxi dropped me off at the entrance of the private area, I walked past restaurants, a mall and a hotel until I reached a magnificent series of buildings lit up in contrast to the dark sky.

Andes is nestled in this Trade Center area, amidst the trees and beautiful modern architecture, and thus I entered.

The space is cozy in size, nothing too imposing that would leave a foodie feeling overpowered, with the exception of high ceilings and impressive decor inspired by what I can only assume is a citizen of the world. This mix of eclectic and quaint describes both the menu items and the ambiance. read more

Dubai Outlet Mall

I remember visiting the Dubai Outlet Mall almost a decade ago, and being a shopaholic myself, found the deals to be a dream come true. From designer items to athletic gear, one could spend an entire day rummaging through the aisles of the multi-brand mall. I recently dropped by to take a look at some new deals at the mall and was pleasantly surprised with an even more extended portfolio of brands all under one roof.

First I passed by Dynamic Sports outlet that hosts top notch athletic brands and gear where one can find a wide array of footwear, apparel and accessories. The central feature of this shop is the new addition of bicycles for those who wish to practice this sports with quality equipment at a good price. read more

Six Senses Spa Dubai

One cannot possibly think of world class spas without Six Senses coming to mind instantly. This renowned luxury spa is located in the most exotic destinations and offers an experience that truly transports you to nirvana. I had the pleasure of disconnecting one afternoon at the Six Senses Spa Dubai located in the ultra chic and modern Renaissance Hotel Downtown. I was greeted in a gentle manner that made me forget my entire stress and work overload, and handed a form to fill out. The form was by no means generic, although some questions were standard; however they delved deeper into the needs of each massage recipient in terms of anxiety, panic, and otherwise, so that the staff would be aware of the needed outcome of each individual service.  read more

Towers Rotana Dubai

Towers Rotana stands tall on Dubai’s prominent Sheikh Zayed Road and boasts a number of advantages due to this prime location. It is a 1 minute walk to the metro station (red line) that takes you pretty much anywhere you need to go, and if you prefer to cab the route, numerous taxis pass by the hotel every few seconds to take you to your destination. Around it and in walking distance everything you need in the city is there, grocery store, pharmacy and more essentials, including many local hotspots and cafes. This means that you are well surrounded by all that Dubai has to offer and will not have a second to spare from all this fun! read more

Family Vacation To Letoonia Club

My husband and I wanted to take the kids for a summer vacation to a destination that isn’t far from Beirut, is kids friendly, and leaning towards fun and easy going as opposed to a walking and sightseeing focused destination. We automatically thought of Turkey because it requires no visa, however we didn’t want to redo one of our previous vacations where we had a layover before heading to our destination, as we weren’t sure that two kids on a long flight was the ideal situation.

I had heard that Wings of Lebanon airline offers direct flights to Turkey, but it was amidst the media and public backlash so I had to make an informed decision. I traveled with them two weeks prior to Antalya and experienced a smooth flight to and from Beirut, with friendly Nakhal representatives keeping everyone company on the plane and bus. The days that followed my trip witnessed a major scrutiny of W.O.L., and I didn’t intend on traveling with my family on an aircraft that has been facing logistic trouble to reduce travel time, nor did I accept to jump to conclusions based on hearsay. I researched well, was in contact with employees and professionals who explained the exact situation of the recent flight that was required to head back to Beirut airport, checked the history of the aircraft that I would be boarding and was informed that the flight heading to Dalaman airport was on a new Boeing 737-700. Common sense eventually won this debate, no captain would wish to fly a less than perfect airplane neither would Nakhal, the largest and most established name in travel and tours, wish to bring shame on their renowned business by putting people’s lives at risk.

We usually search for most suitable plane tickets online, and spend quite some time reading hotel reviews before taking our decision. But since our children were going to be with us on this trip, we couldn’t risk a hotel or destination that was less than perfect, because while adults can adapt to their settings, kids need to feel comfortable in familiar surroundings, and we opted for a travel agency to handle every detail. We forewent online booking and packed our bags and were super excited to go with Nakhal and Wings of Lebanon to Letoonia Club in Fethiye Turkey.

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I had packed snacks and many activity books for my children to distract them while we were flying, for my sanity and to keep the peace on board. Take off and landing were well received by my youngest, keeping in mind that this is his first flight and he is only two years old. Upon landing, we were welcomed by Nakhal representatives and each group of people headed towards them as they systematically told us which bus we should get on. We got on bus 67, spacious and air-conditioned, for a 1.5 hour ride to our destination, the famous Letoonia Club.

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At the hotel reception, more Fethiye based Nakhal reps greeted us, informed us that the porters would handle our luggage as we rested in the lobby until it was time for a conference where details of the club were divulged. We would be having a few days of uninterrupted fun on a full board basis.

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We went up to check our room, and to our surprise it contained a cot! I couldn’t help but think of how thoughtful the staff must be to go out of their way and provide Fares with a cozy place to sleep. A double and single bed were placed alongside one another, the room contained a TV, a fridge/mini bar that we could access free of charge, a mirrored closet with a safe, and a wooden balcony surrounded by greenery.

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We started to explore the club and were amazed at how every walking trail had a continuous line of vision to the sea. We stopped by Likia restaurant, one of the club’s buffet zones, to check out what they offered and were taken aback by the chic setup despite it being busy. The cuisine was international and varies from breakfast to lunch and dinner, and the waiters and waitresses are of the utmost friendliness.

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It was time to head to the Dolphin Bar and Restaurant on one of the three private beaches in Letoonia for a dinner with the Nakhal team. We took the funicular up the walking trail and again down to reach the beach, and it was setup like a movie, candlelit tables on the sand, only a few feet away from the water. We had a seafood dinner while having a lively discussion and headed towards the theater that offers nightly shows, each from a different culture. That night’s theme was a silent Western comedy that cracked up the adults and kids alike. After about an hour of laughter and fun we walked through the lively pool area where crowds were still massive although it was approaching midnight.

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The next day we were set on spending the day at the Dolphin Beach, and walked the entire way to breathe in the majestic scenery. The advantage of this particular beach is the proximity of the kids club, so we enrolled Tracy in the gated space by giving the ladies in charge details of where we will be during her time at the mini club, informed the team of any allergies, and enjoyed the sun as she practiced her favorite hobby, painting. Later on she and her brother played on the slides at the kids pool and got to meet children from different countries, while parents also got to mingle.

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What I love about this club is the attention to details. Did you know that there are water dispensers with plastic cups at every pool? How cool is the fact that even if you don’t want to walk across to the bar to have a drink, you can still beat dehydration. There is also a towel kiosk for convenience, ice cream stands and iced juice machines for refreshment. Along the walking trails there are wooden tables for you to dispose of any cutlery you might have used while outside the restaurant premises. There is also plastic containers to fill up your food from the buffet and enjoy it by the beach, how thoughtful is that?

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There was even a proclaimed Instagram worthy spot where we tried to take a sappy romantic photo, spent more time on the beach before taking a short break at the Agora bar to head towards the pedalo. The kids enjoyed the calm ride in the between the two hills and we got to see the landscape from afar.

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Walking back to the hotel room to freshen up, we decided to try to Moonlight buffet restaurant at the other side of Letoonia, it was quite the stretch to reach but we got to see all the seaside bungalows on our way as well as dine under a series of lit moons and stars hanging above the tables. We couldn’t miss out on another night of the theater, and this time they were presenting Indian, Egyptian and Arabic cultures as well as a fire show. We ended the evening by purchasing souvenirs from the convenient on site shop and enjoying rounds of drinks while the kids kept busy dancing and coloring, and headed back to the hotel via the internal shuttle train.

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The next morning’s nature walk and delicious breakfast were bittersweet, having to say goodbye to this paradise nestled in a private land. We made the most of our time before we had to head back to the reception to board the bus once again heading to Dalaman airport. We were bid adieu at the check in counter by Nakhal as they assured that our wait in line was nearing an end, and to our delight the flight, which was full with not a single empty seat, boarded early on and we took off earlier than planned allowing us to return to Beirut to our daily activities sooner.

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Would I fly with Wings of Lebanon again? Definitely.

Do I recommend Letoonia Club for a holiday destination? Absolutely.

With W.O.L. you get direct flights twice a day at practical times to Dalaman airport, and at Letoonia you experience fun for the whole family on an all inclusive basis in a resort that literally never sleeps, with meals and drinks operating 24/7. Lively music and ambiance, competitions and activities, nature and peace all in one destination.